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Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. With an estimated 90.3 million inhabitants as of 2012, it is the world's 13th-most-populous country, and the eighth-most-populous Asian country. The name Vietnam translates as "South Viet", and was officially adopted in 1945. The country is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea to the east. The South China Sea is referred to in Vietnam as the East Sea. Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976.

The Vietnamese became independent from Imperial China in 938 AD, following the Battle of Bạch Đằng River. Successive Vietnamese royal dynasties flourished as the nation expanded geographically and politically into Southeast Asia, until the Indochina Peninsula was colonized by the French in the mid-19th century. Following a Japanese occupation in the 1940s, the Vietnamese fought French rule in the First Indochina War, eventually expelling the French in 1954. Thereafter, Vietnam was divided politically into two rival states, North and South Vietnam. Conflict between the two sides intensified, with heavy foreign intervention, during the Vietnam War, which ended with a North Vietnamese victory in 1975.

Vietnam was then unified under a Communist government, but was politically isolated and impoverished. In 1986, the government initiated a series of economic and political reforms, which began Vietnam's path towards integration into the world economy. By 2000, it had established diplomatic relations with most nations. Vietnam's economic growth has been among the highest in the world since 2000, and in 2011 it had the highest Global Growth Generators Index among 11 major economies. Its successful economic reforms resulted in it joining the World Trade Organization in 2007. However, the country still suffers from relatively high levels of income inequality, disparities in healthcare provision, and poor gender equality.

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